Getting a Michelin star is no easy feat. Even more so for a new restaurant that’s only been open for a little over a year – and for a majority of that time operating under Covid-19 restrictions. That makes Est, which earned its first coveted star in the gourmet bible’s 2022 guide, all the more impressive.
However, it’s not entirely surprising for the contemporary French restaurant, perched on the 39th floor of the sumptuous Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi. Est has always had a clear vision since its first day. It’s led by chef Guillaume Bracaval who’s no stranger to Michelin accolades, as he’s trained under culinary luminaries including Alain Passard of L'Arpège in Paris and Christian Le Squer of Le Cinq, also in Paris.
The restaurant’s omakase courses (lunch from ¥12,500, dinner from ¥25,000) are rooted in French cooking but reimagined through Japanese terroir. In fact, Est sources about 95 percent of its ingredients from within the country; their provenance proudly displayed on a welcome card on the table, matching produce to their respective small farms in Japan.
The food at Est is a celebration of the freshest seasonal flavours and as such, the dishes change regularly. But they are faultless: the flavours, while clean and precise, are still sophisticated and multi-dimensional.
The seaweed cured Hokkaido turbot wrapped in cruncy daikon ribbons is a joy to eat: textural and singing with brightness from the zesty citrus cream. By contrast, the guinea fowl from Iwate is more robust, roasted with a generous stuffing of butter and truffle under its skin. When it’s presented whole to the table hot from the oven, the wafer crisp, golden brown skin alone is enough to make your mouth water with its toasty umami richness.
The Peau de Soja is a must, if and when it’s on the menu. The unassuming-looking dish is a cheeky take on the French cheese course that signals the transition from main to dessert. Instead of dairy, this is a light and airy tofu cheese, laid atop a zingy lemon jam and served on a crispy pizza cracker.
Rounding out the meal at est is pastry chef Michele Abbatemarco, who creates structural desserts that eschew the use of white sugar. In its place are artisanal ingredients like kibisato (raw cane sugar) and honey, which add depth of flavour rather than just plain sweetness to his confectionery.
Props should also go to chief sommelier Takeshi Shimura, whose selection of wines (and the occasional sake) are unconventional, bold and confident. They speak more to his unique point of view rather than the general consensus about pairing, and that’s really what you want when splashing out at a restaurant like Est – to broaden your horizons about what a good wine can be, not just what it should be.